First a new pricing strategy, and now this. Netflix just announced that it will be splitting its streaming and by-mail video rental service into two brands hosted on two separate websites. Netflix will keep its original name for their once popular streaming service, but will be reorganizing it's by-mail rental service into a different brand called Qwikster (a name that promises to bring about a fair bit of irony in the future).
This comes on the heels of news that Netflix lost almost 1 million subscribers due to its new pricing policies and that various partners such as Starz and Sony are looking to pull out of their popular streaming service. As anyone can imagine, this has come as a bit of a shock to current Netflix subscribers which prompted CEO Reed Hastings to respond to these concerns in a video online. In it, he tries to put out a few fires by revealing that both websites will be able to communicate with one another allowing subscribers' ratings and favorites to stay consistent. He also tried to put a good face on the split by mentioning that it will allow them to update and improve both websites faster.
Whatever the case will be, this is certainly ominous news. Especially with new streaming services entering the market from companies like Redbox, Amazon, Sony, and even Facebook, it will be harder than ever to convince subscribers to try and learn how to use both services. Even more so when a splitting company usually signals a tanking market.
Of a more ominous nature, is the second guessing of many video streaming content providers. Just last month, Fox announced their plans to delay new shows on Hulu by 8 days. This was probably to encourage more people to buy Hulu Plus and other premium services, but is a blow to the traffic Hulu would usuallyreceive. In a similar manner, Sony's pullout from Netflix was probably an effort to drive more people to its streaming service called Crackle. Both of these events seem to be the start of an unfortunate trend of content providers leaving popular services.
The logical conclusion is that instead of logging into one site for all of your content needs, it will be necessary to log in to several websites at once to watch programming. This seems like a disaster for both companies like Netflix and for the public at large. The simple truth is, everybody wants to have an easy way to access all of their favorite content without having to jump through several hoops to do it. Hopefully sometime in the future these companies will agree….but you shouldn't hold your breath on this one.